perpetual_motion: saul panzer is a fierce bitch (mmmm vest)
[personal profile] perpetual_motion
(If you can read this, you are not any of the people I am about to describe.)

It has come to my attention in recent weeks two of the people I consider my dearest friends in Missouri are, in fact, not really that great for me as a person. It's not that they're bad people. It's that they think they're more together than they are, and I have a maybe-compulsive need to fix things, and these are people who I know genuinely love and care about me, so I want to return that love and care.

Except, well, I'm not getting any of it back right now, and it's sharpening the picture for me. Let me be clear: I have no problem with a friend coming to me with, "Okay, so, here's what sucks right now. I have this list." I will always listen (I may talk over you once or twice, but it's not a "please shut up" thing. I just do it--big, loud family side effect). And I will always do what I can to help. Sometimes, that's just listening. Sometimes, it's giving advice. I've learned over the years not to just hand out advice (see previous mention of maybe-compulsive urge to fix), but I'm always prepared for it. It's how my brain works. You tell me a problem; I start looking for a solution.

Now, this is where we get into the clusterfuck of the whole thing: While I don't expect my advice to be gospel truth, I do at least expect an acknowledgement that you considered it. If you decide not to listen, fine. If, however, not listening means you're in a worse place afterwards, I'll start to lose respect for you.

I find, in general, that women are much more likely to ask for advice but much less likely to actually consider advice. One of my dear friends in Missouri, S., put me through the wringer on this. She got into a really bad headspace at one point for about eighteen months, and for about a year, I tried to pull her out of it. She would come to me for advice, and I would tell her the truth. I would tell her she was drinking too much and that her boyfriend was treating her like shit, and that she needed to break away and take care of herself, and she would nod and agree, and then we'd repeat.

I finally just flipped shit on myself one day and stopped talking to her. It wasn't hard. By that point she was so passive aggressively pissed at me that she wasn't taking my calls and was having those just-too-loud conversations about her wedding plans (yeah, it got to that point) with another woman we worked with that not talking to her was more just my giving up trying to help.

Cue six months later, and she e-mails me. She's gotten rid of the douchebag; she's met a nice girl; they have settled down. And you know what? All of this is still true, and I adore her wife nearly as much as I adore my friend.


Except now we're getting back into a cycle of "Oh, I need your advice!" and I'm giving it, and I'm getting shitall back in regards to giving it in the first place. And this advice? About my other dear friend, who is her dear friend as well, and how he's starting to fuck up his own life.

I honestly think the reason she hasn't gotten back to me is because when she laid out what the issues were (basically, everyone around him can see the bad decisions he's making, but he can't, and they are truly bad decisions that will do him harm), my first response was, "Well, shit, this is pretty reminiscent of we went through back when."

The thing is, my dear female friend says she's blunt, and she says she's thick-skinned, and she says that she wants absolute honesty from the people around her, but it's not true. She wants at least a drop of sugar-coating on her honesty, and while I can and will do that for people, once you give me--and do not revoke--carte blanche, I will just fucking say what I mean to say. I am an unambiguous bastard, all right? I grew up with a lot of passive aggressive shitbagging and people telling me that there were certain things we didn't talk about, and I saw through that bullshit at a very young age and haven't looked back. I also inform people of this when we start to get friendly. Not everyone wants to be friends with the woman who will clear a room by yelling, "If you're got in Props, get the hell out!" (that was on Tuesday) and simply shrug if anyone looks at her in shock. It's the quickest way to clear the room, much in the same way the quickest way to help with a problem is to cut the bullshit.

Bringing it back around: So, I'm realizing, as I sit here a week and a half after sending advice and three days after sending a general e-mail (Hi, how are you; here's what up.) and hearing NOTHING back, that I should not actually be surprised because, well, this is how my dear female friend works, and the reason it's really starting to chap my ass is because while she and my dear male friend (who suffers from a slightly lesser version of her same problem) in Missouri are pulling their usual sort of thing, my friends here in Portland don't do that.

My friends out here are friends, like friend-friends. People who understand that coming to me with their problems means I will be willing to help them and who actually want that help, rather than just paying me lip service. People who come over to hang out and have dinner (or meet me at a glorious little bar [you know who you are]) and had a shitty day but rather than spend the whole night dragging the party down say, "Here is my shitty day, and now that I have announced it, let us talk of fun things." People who let me lean on them as much I let them lean on me and if I lean too hard will tell me so.

I'm a little bummed at this revelation, actually. I feel like coming to Portland has put me through a second run of puberty in some ways. I'm more aware of some of my more awkward tendencies (I nervous-talk like no one's business), and I'm living in a place where, for the first time, there are no real preconceived notions about who I am because people haven't known me my whole life or didn't meet me just as I was coming into my own in my adulthood. I am settled in myself in a way I never have been before but am more aware than ever of things I need to work on (nervous-talk being the biggest; I will seriously fill any second of silence if I'm meeting you for the first time [or the second, or third]). I'm glad I know these things; I can work on them and be proud when I feel I've improved, but now I'm sitting here looking at the friends I had (much as I did in junior high and high school) and realizing that the friends I want aren't them.

I want the people I have now, who want to be my friends and also want to be fully responsible for their decisions and their lives. I think that's really the crux of it: the friends I had, while adults, haven't taken that final step to realizing that the force of their lives has to be their decision and not something they can be wishy-washy on. The friends I have now come to me for advice or to commiserate or to simply hang out with a much different sense of themselves, with a clear idea of who they are and an idea of who they are that is inarguable. If they say they are X, Y, or Z, I can see it's true.

I guess it's true friendships I have now; people who's view of themselves are authentic and honest, built from a lot of personal choices rather than cobbled together as needed when not coming to me for advice.

It's funny how often I went back to the advice thing throughout this. Reading it over, it seems like the central theme. I'm not sure how to say it eloquently, so I'll just leave it there to look at later.

on 2012-04-12 02:48 pm (UTC)
lasergirl: puppy with the word "obey" under it, and a heart (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lasergirl
It's so much easier to be passive-aggressive over email. It's a lot harder face-to-face (although I did just live with a crazy woman who was a QUEEN at that shit).

Also, you are an adult. A well-adjusted, functioning human with appropriate stress vents and love zones. Some people don't have the ability to temper themselves that way. (Which is why you're awesome)

NEVER underestimate the power of "GET THE HELL OUT". That's a superhuman skill.

Also, people that just want to talk to you because they feel shitty end up making you feel shitty, or worried, or stressed, because they want to spread misery around. Maybe not intentionally, but if you give decent, sane advice that people willfully ignore then yeah, you don't need to waste energy worrying about them anymore. You gave them a chance, and if they don't take your well-thought out and adult advice, then they are not grownups and you don't have to worry about them as much. They choose misery. It's easy. You don't have to!

.... and that's why I think you're awesome.


perpetual_motion: hang yourself please (Default)

October 2013


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